Confirmation that The BASE Centre in the Twin Towns is to be one of the new regional digital hubs has been welcomed by local councillors.
Speaking at today’s meeting of the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal Distrct (MD), Raphoe Councillor, Frank McBrearty, said it was great that the BASE is going to be a digital hub.
However, he asked, is there not a stronger need in Raphoe as this is also a commercial town with two secondary schools.
“And that’s not to take away to Ballybofey and Stranorlar, or any other towns in the MD,” Cllr McBrearty stressed.
Cllr Gerry Crawford also asked that the MD not be referred to the Finn Valley, as this does not include Lifford and Raphoe.
“It should be referred to as east Donegal. If we’re not using the correct geographic location, people in those areas feel they’re being left behind,” Cllr Crawford said.
“Although, I’m not being negative – it’s great news to have a commitment for the digital hub in Stranorlar. But, there should be a hub in the new council offices in the old Lifford Army Barracks.”
Cllr Patrick McGowan said what has been done in the BASE can be done anywhere in the MD, such as Killygordon and Castlefinn, “but that has to be led locally.”
The meeting was informed by the council’s IS Project Leader & Broadband Officer, Daragh McDonough, that the rollout of the free WiFi4EU scheme had been slowed because of Covid restrictions.
The chairman of the MD, Councillor Gary Doherty, however, welcomed the fact that the rollout was gaining momentum again. Cllr Doherty also called for more digital hubbs around the MD.
Cllr McBrearty pointed out that the fastest broadband in the EU, Project Kelvin, is coming across Lifford Bridge.
“Lifford is the capital of the county and the County HQ is here, although some members in other MDs would like it taken out of there. We don’t get a proper slice of the cake in relation to economic development. Ballybofey and Stranorlar do not get the same as Letterkenny and Buncrana.”
Members were disappointed, however, that a planned presentation by National Broadband Ireland had been cancelled at the last minute.
Mr McDonough advised the meeting that it had been pulled by NBI as the person who delivered presentations had left the company.
Cllr Gary Doherty said it was a ‘disgrace’ that it had been canceled at the last minute.
Cllr McGowan said he had got a lot of calls from the Doneyloop area in relation to issues of broadband and thought he’d get answers today.
“We’ve had no proper explanations and it’s terrible that it’s cancelled now. People are very frustrated. People doing business and buying and selling cattle. I propose that this is too urgent to wait until the next meeting and we need this presentation as soon as possible.”
Cllr Harley said broadband is the buzzword and if NBI has only one person for presentations “that doesn’t augur well for the rollout of broadband.”